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Trump has Historically Low Approval Ratings; Disagreement over Russia Dossier; Importance of Journalism; Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired January 17, 2017 - 08:30   ET



[08:33:14] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: President-elect Donald Trump is going to enter office on Friday as the most unpopular incoming president in decades. A brand-new CNN/ORC poll shows 40 percent of Americans approve of how Trump has handled the presidential transition. Another national poll from "The Washington Post" is in line with ours.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The president-elect now tweeting about this just moments ago. He says, "the same people who did the phony election polls and were so wrong are now doing approval rating polls. They are rigged, just like before."

CUOMO: Another shot at Camerota.

Our new national poll, like the CNN poll of polls, right before the election, same kind of thing. Take a look at this number. Just to be clear, it was within the margin of error, this race. Clinton, ahead of the president-elect, four points, sometimes three points. Some of the state polls, by the way, were off, especially Pennsylvania. But Clinton wound up winning the popular vote by just under 3 million votes. Again, within the margin of error.

CAMEROTA: OK, so let's get "The Bottom Line" now with award-winning journalists, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, together again on our air, reunited and it feels so good.

Gentlemen, great to have you -


CAMEROTA: Great to have you both here.

Carl, let me start with you. It's not a surprise that Mr. Trump wouldn't like these latest approval numbers, but these are the numbers and it is historically low. No other president in recent memory comes in with just a 40 percent approval rating. So what is going on?

BERNSTEIN: Well, he's right. He's the president-elect of the United States, and he won the election. And he's taking a little bit of umbrage here at the way the press is playing some of this. Look, we know what these tweets are about. We're familiar with them by

now. He's got a thin skin. No surprises here. And I don't think it's a huge story. I think there are much more important things going on than the poll numbers.

[08:35:05] We have a president-elect of the United States who has raised all kinds of questions with the intelligence community, with people in Congress, with the black community, a unique situation, a troubled country, troubled at his coming into the presidency, along with the fact that he has some great and enthusiastic support. That's more important than the numbers.

CUOMO: Well, Bob, we see a little bit of the coming together of those two concepts, the policy and the messaging, in this poll on the specific issue of confidence in the intelligent community's assessment of Russian hacking. You know, obviously, you have a whole spectrum here of what type of likeliness people see, and you get about 75 percent of those polled say they believe in that. Donald Trump was very slow to that conclusion and some would say he hasn't fully accepted it yet. How does that play in your mind?

BOB WOODWARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I - he said it. I think the intelligence community has come up with a good assessment and has good intelligence that - and as Trump has said, their - Russia is behind the hacking.

But Carl's right, this isn't about polls. This is about what he's going to do as president. There are - if we were to list the questions on a white board or in any form, we would be on the show all morning. There's so many things that need to be answered. And my approach, and I know Carl's approach from the work we did 45 years ago, that you have to look at, what are the facts, who are the witnesses, what is the quality of the evidence, and we need, in a very aggressive but fair way, to explain what he's going to be doing as president. It's going to be a hell of a story.

CAMEROTA: Hey, Bob, I want to stick with you with one second because you have said that you believe that the dossier that was presented by the intel community to Mr. Trump, as well as to President Obama, it included the opposition research with wild unconfirmed accusations about Mr. Trump, you've called that, quote, "a garbage document." What did you mean by that?

WOODWARD: I mean that - first of all, the meeting that the intelligence chiefs had with Trump was to go over their very good assessment of Russian hacking, and then they added, as CNN first reported in a terrific story because this is news, this two-page summary of this dossier that's full of all these unconfirmed allegations. I've read those 35 pages. The quality is not good. It is the sort of document that you would - you know, they tainted the good report they had on Russian hacking by including this. And they shouldn't have done that.

CAMEROTA: The intel community?

WOODWARD: They should have found a channel to make sure Trump got it - CUOMO: OK.

WOODWARD: Maybe through the White House counsel.

CUOMO: Fair criticism, but in terms of the CNN reporting, what did you make of our story?

CUOMO: I thought it was exactly right, and it did not go into the unsubstantiated detail, but it said that the intelligence chiefs presented this to Trump. That clearly is news, and I thought it was done in a very restrained, accurate way. And the CNN story said, look, we can't substantiate any of this, so we are not going to publish the details from it. Somebody else published the detail and it's out there and people are going to be looking at it.

But you have to jump into Trump's position.


WOODWARD: And as Carl and I learned many years ago, chronology is important. And before Trump was elected, a lot of the former intelligence chiefs attacked him, said, oh, he's an witting - unwitting agent of the Russian federation -

CAMEROTA: Right. Yes.

WOODWARD: And said things about him which, of course, he didn't like. And then all of a sudden this two-page summary is presented to him -


WOODWARD: And he says, hey, wait a minute, who - is this fair.

CAMEROTA: Right. What do you -


CAMEROTA: Let me - let me -

WOODWARD: In my view it was not fair.

CAMEROTA: Fair - fair enough, Bob.

Where are you now, Carl?

BERNSTEIN: Well, part of the extraordinary elements of this story is what Bob just said, the idea that the intelligence chiefs of the United States of America would assert that the incoming president of the United States is questionable in terms of his relationship with the Russians is absolutely an astonishing starting point for all these stories.

[08:40:21] And where does some of this come from? Some of it comes from the fact of his lack of transparency about his business dealings. What does Donald Trump own in greater Russia, not just Russia, but greater Russia, the old USSR, what does he own? Who does he own it with? How much does he owe to people in that part of the world, Russian (INAUDIBLE), other? We know almost nothing about his underlying finances despite that dog and pony show that he did the other day with all those envelopes and his lawyer in -

CUOMO: That we're not allowed to look at.

BERNSTEIN: That we're not allowed to look for, and whether or not, as "Saturday Night Live" indicated, there's anything in those envelopes.

CUOMO: Well, Bob, one of the -

BERNSTEIN: This is a -

WOODWARD: But - but -

BERNSTEIN: Let me finish.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

BERNSTEIN: This is a big story, and we need to know, what does he own, how much does he owe and what is it.

CUOMO: Bob, go ahead, you were going to make a point?

WOODWARD: No, but the - the point - yes, there are all kinds of questions here and they should be addressed and I think lots of reporters are looking at them. But for the intelligence chiefs to pass on a summary of something that's totally unsubstantiated, James Clapper, who's the head of intelligence, the director of national intelligence, then afterwards said, it was not an intelligence community document. There was no verification of it. You know, that has no place in an intelligence briefing. And I think they undermine the main point they were making in their good intelligence report, that Russia was behind the hacking here.

So my view, they made a mistake. They should have found another way to get this out. But this is in this model of who is Donald Trump, what are his relations -


WOODWARD: And Carl's exactly right, we've got to find out and -

CUOMO: Well, one of the things -

WOODWARD: But it's not the job of the intelligence community to go out and give him a summary in an intelligence briefing of stuff that's totally unsubstantiated. I mean, look, we've all been -

CUOMO: All right, well, they - they made their determination. It could be criticized. But my question is, I'm not hearing any part of your analysis on the response to that. I get why he wouldn't like it. I get why you would say maybe it wasn't the right venue from it. But the president-elect's response was to undermine the legitimacy of the intelligence community, apparently shelter Russia from any type of responsibility from the hacks, even though there was consensus, and then to conflate the reporting of CNN and BuzzFeed and call us fake news. Where does that factor into your analysis of what it tells us about the president-elect?

WOODWARD: Well, first of all, I mean, they - they did say that Russia was behind the hacking, and Trump has agreed. That's the key issue that was in this meeting.

CUOMO: Well, he paused when he said - he said it, I now think it was Russia. And, first of all, as you know, he fought that conclusion a long time, without basis. Said he had information that refuted the basis. And he quoted Julian Assange.

WOODWARD: Well, but he said (INAUDIBLE) - this is the whole problem of reading exactly what he is saying and what he means. At the same time, the whole approach by the intelligence community, by journalists, has to be fair and aggressive. To do this was a mistake. And CNN, in their initial report, acknowledged that by saying, we're not going to go into detail. The intelligence community has said, oh, by the way, this was not an intelligence document and we can't substantiate any of it.


WOODWARD: So they made a mistake. My view, they should - apologies are cheap, and they should apologize to Trump.

CAMEROTA: The intel community?

WOODWARD: They need to have good relations with him.


WOODWARD: He needs to have good relations with them. And the idea that this has gone off the rails -


WOODWARD: Is a tragedy for national security in this country.

CAMEROTA: So, Carl, sum this up for us?

BERNSTEIN: First of all, I'm not sure an apology is due. There could have been a different channel. The fact is the intelligence chiefs of the United States thought this information needed to be brought to the president-elect of the United States and the outgoing president. Might there have been another channel? That's up to those guys.

[08:45:05] But the real summation here is, we need to know substantively much more about Donald Trump, his relationship with Russia, greater Russia, Russians and his business affairs and how they relate or don't relate to what he is acting on as president of the United States, and the conflicts of interest, and this interface of the intelligence community, which has little trust in him, which is extraordinary, and how does this situation play out.

CAMEROTA: Woodward and Bernstein, still at it after -

WOODWARD: Yes, could I interject?

CUOMO: You must.

CAMEROTA: Very quickly.

WOODWARD: I'm sorry.

CAMEROTA: A few seconds.

WOODWARD: OK. Very quickly. Look, these relationships between a president and particularly the CIA need - it needs to be a relationship of trust. And they need to be able to talk to each other in a very direct way.


WOODWARD: And they have to deal with some of the most sensitive operations that are going on this minute.


WOODWARD: And it's not something you pollute that relationship when you throw in a summary of something that's totally unsubstantiated.

CAMEROTA: OK. Great points, both of you. Great to have you together here on our air.

BERNSTEIN: Good to be here.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much.

WOODWARD: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: So, there's this new film and it tells the true story of how Ray Kroc turned McDonald's into the multibillion dollar empire that it is. The film's star, Oscar-nominated actor Michael Keaton is here to tell us about it, next.

CUOMO: He doesn't look like he's eating Big Macs.


[08:50:23] CAMEROTA: So the new movie, "The Founder," tells the true story of how Ray Crock, a struggling salesman from Illinois, meets the McDonald brothers, gains control of their company, and turns it into a multibillion dollar empire. Here is a quick look.


MICHAEL KEATON, ACTOR, "THE FOUNDER": The sky's the limit. The sky is the limit. Grab the brass ring. Give yourself a shot at the American dream. Put your arms around the American dream. Opportunity. Because I'll tell you something, at McDonald's, there's like this great nation around us. Some of that elbow grease. I guarantee you, if you've got the guts, got the gumption, you've got the desire, I guarantee if you can succeed, there's gold to be had at the end of those golden arches, golden arches, golden arches. Now, who's with me? Who wants to jump on that ladder to success, become part of the - the McDonalds (INAUDIBLE). Now who's with me?


CAMEROTA: The man portraying Ray Kroc joins us now, Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe Award-winning actor Michael Keaton.


CAMEROTA: Hi. Great to see you.

KEATON: Thanks. I was just looking at that. I hadn't seen it in a long time and I - now I remember - remember that. First of all, I - Ray was not Jewish. So I purposely kind of hacked up Mushmuka (ph) and said it - no, and (INAUDIBLE) pronounce that. And also a lot of that I now remember was somewhat improvised. So there was some in the script, but then John Lee Hancock, the director said, you know, learn it, but then, you know, you can - you can -

CAMEROTA: Damp (ph).

KEATON: Play with it. Yeah.

CAMEROTA: It's really entertaining.

KEATON: Yes, it is. It's an amazing story, actually.

CAMEROTA: It is an amazing story. So what do we not know about Ray Kroc, or what do we need to know about Ray Kroc?

KEATON: That he - oh, man. First of all, he was an - the front half of the movie, the front half of Ray, I guess one could say, I - I have great respect for. A really, really hard worker. And a boot strap story. An America, pull yourself up by your boot straps. He wasn't given anything. Did it all on his own. And worked hard and created this - had a vision, man. He was a visionary. His focus was remarkably intense. And then, you know, he - he kept turning the screw, but he didn't have to. I didn't know that there were McDonald's brothers, did you?

CAMEROTA: No, I did not know that.

KEATON: Yes, the story's really interesting. And actually you could argue that Ray was the original, without knowing it exactly, the original brander. You know, he really branded this. He saw what it could be.

CAMEROTA: Funny you say that because so many people have said that this movie is incredibly timely.


CAMEROTA: Not because of anything about McDonald's, but because of Donald Trump.

KEATON: Uh-huh.

CAMEROTA: And, in fact, let me put up some headlines for you. They say, "this is the film celebrating McDonald's. It's the perfect start for Trump cinema that the founder, Michael Keaton super sizes McDonald's and births Trump's U.S." What's that about? What's the parallel here between Ray Kroc and Donald Trump?

KEATON: I keep - I keep hearing this and I guess there is - there's - because I will give you the big difference. The president-elect - wow, that's hard to say - was given - and I know there's no doubt that he probably worked hard. I don't - I can't judge that. I wasn't there. But he was given a lot. Big - given a big jump monetarily, right? I mean he - he just was. And Ray Kroc was not. Ray Kroc had nothing and built this up himself. In terms of, you know, his -

CAMEROTA: Look, packaging and sloganing, and being larger than life.

KEATON: Absolutely. And manipulating -

CAMEROTA: And creating something.


CAMEROTA: Golden arches. You know, there's a lot of those parallels.

KEATON: Well, I don't think there are - I wouldn't draw those parallels to - those particular parallels. But other people did -

CAMEROTA: What do you think are - well, I think there's this - and this is alleged, by the way. I ain't saying there's any. This is the alleged parallel, that it was the - and this probably is close, the unscrupulousness. I mean I'll just say it. I mean, you know, Ray did some things toward the end that were unscrupulous and so did, you know, the president-elect.

CAMEROTA: So why do you trip over the term "the president-elect"?

KEATON: Because I'm - it's a worrisome thing, and we could do - I mean if you want to we can - but we'd be here a while. I'm not - I don't believe in real quick sound bites because I think that's unfair to everyone. But it's really worrisome. Look what you were just talking about. Let's start with that, with Woodward and Bernstein. I mean that's insane. And, by the way, if I was BuzzFeed, I - (INAUDIBLE) - (INAUDIBLE), you know, we were just talking about the movie I did called "Spotlight" -

CAMEROTA: Yes, "Spotlight" -


CAMEROTA: Which was about the catholic church -


CAMEROTA: Scandal in Boston.


CAMEROTA: It was such a great movie.

KEATON: And - and -

CAMEROTA: And how journalism cracked it -


CAMEROTA: And journalism stood up at that moment.

KEATON: And how - right. And you have to be relentless in our sources and you can't settle for one or two sources. If I was them, however, and they - they messed up. They did.

[08:55:02] CAMEROTA: BuzzFeed messed up?

KEATON: A little bit. Yes, they did. But I would not back off if I was them. I would say - I would come out, which I think they kind - kind of have and said, we needed - we didn't - they - even though they said we're not substantiating this, there's no real truth behind this, we - we feel it's necessary to be exposed to some degree, they still should say, we made a mistake, we admit it. But if they cower now and say, well, gee, we're just going to disappear, we're sorry, we're really not legitimate, well, that would be a big mistake.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, that's not what they're doing.


CAMEROTA: They're saying that they think that they should have published it because it was already out there in the ether, but that's not really journalism, as you point out -

KEATON: No. I know. They -

CAMEROTA: You have to have rock solid sources -

KEATON: Correct. I agree. I agree.

CAMEROTA: In journalism at "The Boston Globe."

KEATON: I agree. No, no, I do agree with you and I think that was a - and the problem is, it sets you guys, it sets "The Times," it sets a lot of people back because that's a great target now for people who want to think this way anyway -


KEATON: To say that's all, you know, that's ridiculous. And now -

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, we saw that happen.

KEATON: You take the expression fake news and now you flip that and you use fake news as an advantage, which, you know -

CAMEROTA: Right, we saw that happening with the conflation of what BuzzFeed did with CNN's rock-sold reporting.

KEATON: Right. Right.

CAMEROTA: With Carl Bernstein -

KEATON: Right.

CAMEROTA: That it, in fact, did happen that Mr. Trump was presented with that dossier.

KEATON: Correct. Right.

CAMEROTA: That's real journalism.


CAMEROTA: So, I mean, but you feel like you know all of this world because of "Spotlight" and because you like it.

KEATON: I'm a junkie.

CAMEROTA: You're a junkie.

KEATON: I do. But also "Spotlight" did such a great job. We should talk about "The Founder," I know, but "Spotlight" did such a great job of explaining how real journalism works and that's really important to me.

CAMEROTA: So what did you learn about "The Founder"? What does that teach us about what works, how (ph)?

KEATON: He - this was a - this was a - this is a classic - more than a bio pic. This is a - this is a story of the free enterprise system, capitalism. People want to keep saying the dark side of capitalism. I suppose so. I don't really know. I'm a believer in the free enterprise system, you know, And what it meant at the time in America. And how it - how it pertains - how relevant I guess it is now, you know, when you consider how many wealthy - I mean there was a list the other day of the 10 top billionaires in the world own something - I don't have the statistic -


KEATON: But it's like the top third.


KEATON: More than everyone on the bottom third of the world.

CAMEROTA: Right. Right. Right.

KEATON: Anyway, they -

CAMEROTA: Well - the - very entertaining, as you always are. Great job at the - in "The Founder." And everybody can catch "The Founder" when it opens in theaters nationwide on Friday (ph). Thanks so much for being here, Michael.

KEATON: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: All right, "Newsroom" with Carol Costello begins after this very quick break. We'll see you tomorrow.

KEATON: All right, thanks.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.